Morrell, Ernest. “Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Pop Culture: Literacy Development among Urban Youth.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 46.1 (2002): 72-77. Print.
In this article, Morrell suggests that critical teaching of pop culture can help students acquire and develop necessary literacies needed to navigate “new century” schools. He draws on New Literacy theorists and claims that the failure of urban students to develop “academic” literacy comes not from a lack of student intelligence but from a lack of accessibility of the school curriculum to students who are not a part of the “mainstream” culture.
Morrell’s goal is to show how popular culture can be successfully used in critical teaching and draws on data from his 8 years teaching urban teens in the San Francisco Bay area. Morrell’s unit adhered to critical pedagogy because it was based in the students experiences, “called for critical dialogue and a critical engaged of the text, and related the texts to larger social and political issues” (75). Morrell says that students honed the critical and analytical skills. They were also able to make connections between literature, popular culture, and their everyday lives.
While Morrell recognizes the pressures surrounding using critical literacy and popular culture, especially concerning standardized testing, he asserts that teachers should not avoid standards debates or apologize for innovative approaches. Instead he suggests that critical teachers get involved with conversations on assessment that is more compatible with findings on students nonschool literacies.